Hong Kong’s tram operator expects to roll out ten air-conditioned trams by the end of 2018.

Emmanuel Vivant, managing director of Hong Kong Tramways, told reporters that the company has decided to increase the number of air-conditioned trams after positive reactions from a pilot test last year.

He said he expected to have the trams online within next year, and 30 to 40 air-conditioned trams in the long run – around a quarter of the fleet.

Photo: Hong Kong Tramways.

A air-conditioned tram hit the roads last year as the public were invited to give feedback on the temperature they prefer.

Vivant said almost 300,000 passengers rode the test tram and most found it to be a positive experience. A preliminary decision was to set the temperature of the tram at 25 degrees Celsius.

The fare for air-conditioned trams is expected to be higher than the current HK$2.3, but it has yet to be confirmed.

Tramways senior engineering manager Steven Chan Si-yiu said the engineering team was in the process of improving the design to save energy so that the system can bring more air-conditioned trams online.

Inside the air-conditioned tram. Photo: Hong Kong Tramways.

The Policy Address issued this week said that the government will subsidise, on a matching basis, the replacement of about 2.4 kilometres of tram tracks with new technology in order to reduce the traffic impact caused by tram track replacement works. It will also provide a more comfortable service for passengers.

Vivant welcomed the subsidies, as the company already had plans to replace the shock absorbing material on tracks.

He said the plan may cost HK$40 million, half of which will be subsidised. The engineering will be completed in around three years – half the time of the original plan.

Chan said the plan could help reduce the noise when trams pass by from 85 decibels and around 65 decibels.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.